Deborah Fromm, Insurance  Technopolitics: Car Theft and Contested Governance of (In)security in São Paulo, Brazil

Latin American Anthropology Seminar - Insurance Technopolitics: Car Theft and Contested Governance of (In)security in São Paulo, Brazil

Speaker: Deborah Fromm (University of Campinas, Brazil)

In Brazil, approximately 500 thousand vehicles are stolen per year. Car theft is perceived in public debate as a significant security problem. The country’s main insurance group has about 35 thousand vehicles stolen each year. Given this scenario, insurers create partnerships with public security agencies and develop new technologies to reclaim their assets. Based on ethnographic data, this presentation will focus on the responses of insurers to this safety issue, giving particular attention to the impacts of technisation processes in urban governance. Technology will be understood as a mode of politics, rather than merely a tool of politics. More broadly, it will explore how the car theft market, criminal logics, and disputes between private companies and public security forces have become entangled in the role technologies play in the process of vehicle recovery. Following the daily routine of a tracking team from a large insurance company that retrieves stolen vehicles, I emphasise their close and continual negotiations with the police and public authorities and reveal the key roles that insurance and private security companies play in the development of new technologies and systems of control and surveillance.

Date: 3 February 2022